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She wore a simple commoner’s dress, but she was absolutely, without a doubt the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her hair flowed down her back, tied up with a modest blue bow. Her skin was milky white, her features delicate; her step was modest but alluring. In all of his one hundred years of life, Damien had never seen a creature quite as wondrous as she.

He had been following her for some time; he didn’t particularly know why. He was out looking to feed. This was taking precious time away from the twilight hours before the light came. As night grew, it would become more and more difficult to find someone to feed off of. The drunks would be stumbling home, one by one, leaving him less and less available prey as time went on.

Still, he could not peel his eyes away from this beauty, even for a moment. Why was she out here this late, what was she doing? She wasn’t like the typical whores and prostitutes that prowled the streets at night. They had a distinct smell that she did not possess. It was harsh to his sensitive nose, and he typically didn’t feed on them unless desperate. Instead, she smelled slightly like a bouquet of flowers. He could not tell if her smell was a concoction of some perfume, or if she had handled flowers earlier in the day. Either way, it was lovely to him and only served to increase her growing allure.

He remained in the shadows, as he was used to doing. He knew his appearance in the dark could be terrifying and he rarely showed himself except for moments before taking a victim. With all of his skill, he moved along those shadows, continuing to follow her as she walked down the street. He walked in the muddy recesses of back alleys, but was adept at stepping in the appropriate areas so that his feet did not sink into the refuge and become covered in filth.

For the woman’s benefit, she stuck to the well-lit, well-paved areas and kept her high-heeled shoes well placed on the street, never slipping or missing a step. She was so graceful. He had met so few people who ever displayed such grace. Perhaps that was why he had given up his grace a long time ago.

A beggar suddenly stumbled out of a nearby alley and Damien impulsively cringed. The drunken homeless man looked like trouble and was in his love’s way. He wanted to leap out into the light and pull the imperfection staining his view away. Only the woman of his dreams deserved to be in his sights at this particular time.

“Change?” The beggar stumbled towards her.

Damien had expected her to turn away in revulsion. She should have given him a look of disgust. She should have slapped the drunken old man. She should have turned around and run. She did none of these things. Instead, she went into her purse and pulled out a single silver coin. She walked directly up to the man, grabbing his hand and gently placing the coin in his palm, closing his fingers around it.

She smiled at him. The smile was absolutely lovely. Damien’s heart uplifted at the sight of her wonderful and beautiful smile. Then she turned away. The man suddenly grabbed her arm and Damien tensed. It took every ounce of will that he had not to reveal himself right then and there. However, he had not lived a hundred years by being reckless.

The homeless man’s hands were quite grimy, along with the rest of his body. Damien’s enhanced night vision could tell that old man was leaving smears of dirt on her beautiful dress. Damien was shocked when he didn’t see fear amongst the beautiful features of her face. She gently rested her hand on the beggar’s hand, still grabbing her dress, and continued to smile at the old man reassuring him.

The beggar suddenly seemed surprised at his own actions, and a little embarrassed at his outburst. He let go of her dress, and she gently guided his hands to the front of her, holding the grimy hand with both of hers. Then, she leaned forward and kissed the man on the forehead. Damien had to stifle back a gasp and a sudden surge of anger coming from within him.

The old beggar grinned with a toothy smile, “Thank you, m’lady.”

The man backed off a few steps, bobbing his head almost comically while offering her more than adequate room to advance.  She nodded to him with her gorgeous smile and then continued to glide forward with that wonderful grace of hers. Damien continued to follow.

He realized that the rage he had felt was a form of jealousy. She had given a man as dirty and as ugly as that man had been a kiss, simply for being himself. If she was the kind of woman who could do that, would she be the kind of woman who could love Damien as well? He briefly imagined her kissing him. He might have blushed if he contained blood in his veins in the first place.

She turned abruptly, walking up the steps to a small house. She knocked on the doors, and after a moment they opened. A woman was on the other side and she greeted her full-heartedly. They hugged, and then the woman of his affection went into the house.

Had she finally made her way home? Damien began to panic. He wasn’t done seeing her. He hadn’t decided what he wanted to do yet. He wondered how she would taste. He wondered if she would reject him. He needed more information. He desperately looked around for a way to see her again, and noticed a small cracked window in the house. He carefully made his way across the street, always sticking to the shadows.

He snuck up under the windowsill, and began to listen carefully. After a moment, his hearing allowed him to make out voices. The sounds came from another room, but they were close enough for his ears to make out the words.

“It has been a long time since you last came here. Look how you’ve grown!” an older woman’s voice could be heard.

“Thank you, Mrs. Goodsprin,” I know my dad has been meaning to write,” another woman said.

That voice was melodic and pleasant; it could only have come from his love. He silently sighed, letting the voice of his love caress his motionless heart.

“Oh, don’t be silly,” Mrs. Goodsprin was saying. “But it is good to see you. The last time I saw you Veronica, you were only about yay tall.”

Veronica? Her name was Veronica. The name fit her like a glove. It was easily as beautiful as she was. He wanted to say the name allowed, let it caress his lips, but he dared not make a sound.

“But either way,” Mrs. Goodsprin continued on from saying something Damien must have missed, “Why are you out this late? It’s not safe this late at night.”

“I stay to the light and populated areas of town,” Veronica defended herself. “Also, my father insisted that this be delivered to you at once.”

“What’s this then?” Damien could hear the rustling as if wrapping was be torn off of something, “Oh my, that is lovely! Still dear, you shouldn’t have risked yourself for something like this; it really could have waited until it was light out.”

“Then I wouldn’t have been the one to deliver it,” Veronica mused. “I really wanted to see the look on your face.”

“Oh dear, well tell your father I love it, and thank you for this.” Mrs Goodsprin sighed. “It really has been a long time.”

“Well, as you mentioned it is late and I really should be on my way.” Veronica explained.

“So soon? Can’t you stay for a while longer? My husband should be coming home soon. He should be able to walk you home safely.”

“I’m sorry, my father wants me back quickly tonight, he’s on a deadline and I need to be there to assist him.”

Mrs. Goodsprin said her farewells with Veronica. The door opened and Damien made sure to conceal himself well in the shadows of the house. Mrs. Goodsprin made one more attempt to keep Veronica there until her husband could escort her home. Veronica politely declined. Damien sighed in relief at that.  He wanted it to just be himself, her, and the night once again.

As Veronica strode down the street, Damien moved to follow her once again. He really was running out of time. It was already closing on midnight. Once again, he found himself wondering how she tasted. He imagined she tasted wonderful, a combination of the flowers in her scent and the sweetness to her soul. Then he stamped down those thoughts. If he fed on her, he would struggle to control himself. Either he’d kill her, or she would run in terror. Either way would end any chance he had at ever seeing her again.

Perhaps there was another way? He could always change her. He had never changed someone into a vampire like himself. His own sire had perished a long time ago, and they had only spent a few brief years together before a mob had caught up with the pair of them. He had been a gentle and kind master, and had explained to Damien what it would take to sire someone else. Still, he had never done it before, and he could potentially kill her in the process of turning her.

She would be home soon, and it would sever any chance of him doing anything. Of course, he could always break into her room at night, but it was never his way. It scared the townspeople too much and was too noticeable. A girl out at night suddenly missing was a common occurrence. A girl swiped from the comforts of her own room was a manhunt.

Would he even want to turn this beautiful creature before him into something like him? How could she fare as a nightwalker? Would the thought of having to feed and kill and being surrounded by blood and death entice her or disgust her? He imagined the beggar again, and tried to contemplate how she would respond to the disgusting world he could introduce her to. Would she smile at it and embrace it, like she did with that drunkard?

He finally decided, and moved. He broke his sight away from her for a bit as he moved behind the building. Being unable to see her beautiful face felt like tearing his soul asunder. He had to in order to position himself at a better vantage point. He moved with an unnatural speed from alley to alley, leaping over trash, fences, and other obstacles with relative ease.

After a few minutes he positioned himself in an alley that Veronica had yet to reach yet. She should be coming soon. He crouched down in the shadows, waiting for the moment to pounce. That moment didn’t come. After a minute or two past, he became agitated. It was a risk. He knew he was being impatient, but he had to look. He took a quick glance out into the street.

Then he froze. Veronica was not in the street. Where was she? Did she forget something and suddenly turn around? Did she suddenly decide to take some alleyway route he did not predict? Was he so unlucky that her house was between the point he left her eyesight and the alley he prepared the ambush?

He walked out into the street, into the light. It was something he did not do often, but he needed a clearer view. He began walking back down the street, following the path that Veronica should have walked. He owned up his nostrils and his ears, hoping to hear the clicking of his love’s high heeled shoes on the pavement.

Then he heard a sound. It was a woman’s cry. It was Veronica’s voice. It was coming from an alleyway, one that Damien had bypassed when he went to head her off. By the sound of it, there were men present and she sounded to be in a struggle.

Damien suppressed a surge of panic in his gut. He ran down the street, rapidly moving towards the alley. Why had he left her out of his sight? He had been so foolish. Of course he wasn’t the only danger around on a night like this.

Damien slid into the alley, quickly trying to assess the situation. Veronica was on the ground, her shirt was torn and one of the men looked to be trying to force her on the ground. Two other men were standing, each brandishing impressive looking knives. Damien growled at the sight. There was a bruise on Veronica’s arm. How dare they tarnish his perfect Veronica?

The men must have noticed the growl and turned around. In the darkness of the alley, they could not make out any of Damien’s features. If they had, they might not have been so careless. The man on the ground concentrated on keeping Veronica from running, while the other two turned to Damien.

“Well, well, what do we have here? A Good Samaritan hoping to save a damsel? Well sod off, if you know what’s good for you,” One of the men spat.

“He’s seen our faces,” the other man whined nervously. “We can’t let him live.”

The two men descended around Damien. The first man lunged, and Damien easily avoided the thrust of his knife. He grabbed the man’s neck and twisted, causing a sickening crack. Damien allowed the man to collapse to the ground. The nervous man squeaked, suddenly finding himself alone.

Damien took a step towards the man as he slashed the knife at Damien. He took a step back, easily avoiding the swipe.

“Stay back,” the man threatened, his voice tinged with fear as he waved the knife.

Damien took the step forward again and the man swiped in defense. Damien allowed the blade to strike through his skin, and then closed the distance between himself and the rapscallion. The man’s eyes widened as Damien rammed his hand through the his abdomen. The surprised man made a sudden gasp before he sighed and collapsed. Damien’s hand left the man as he fell to the ground, joining his friend.

The third man finally let go of Veronica, staring in fear at his two fallen comrades. In the darkness of the alley, Damien imagined he couldn’t see exactly what Damien had done, but the man knew he had killed his two armed friends in seconds. The man let out a shout, turning and running away. Damien had half a mind to follow him and finish the job, but his sweet Veronica was right there in front of him.

She unsteadily got to her feet, trying to brush off the mud and dirt. It was far too late for that now. Her hair was a complete mess. He dress was covered in filth and mud. It was torn in multiple places and would not be repaired. The strap of her dress was ripped, causing it to fall lower than she had intended, destroying a lot of the modesty that she had tried to maintain.

“You saved me.” The woman stated, her voice cracked but still sounded as beautiful as ever, “Thank you.”

Damien nodded, still a bit stunned that she was actually talking to him, and not fleeing in terror. His hand still dripped, covered in the blood of the man he had impaled only moments before. The only thing he could imagine is that she could not see what he had done. It was likely that she could not see his face right now as well.

“Thank you so much!” she shouted, tears suddenly breaking out as she raced towards him, slamming into him with a giant embrace.

This stunned him further. The woman he loved was hugging him. She was holding him. She was as wonderful and as beautiful as he imagined. As she continued to hold him, weeping into his shoulder, he steadily moved his hands around her waist. She accepted them and did not make any movement of protest. She really was fine with him. She accepted him for whom and what he was.

No, that was not true. He saw the red blood from his arm seeping into her dress. She had not seen what he looked like. Through her tears and her haste, she had assumed he was some valiant knight, not some stalker of the night. Soon, she would pull away from this embrace. She would see his face. She would scream. She would run.

Damien had no other choice. She was crying, and he couldn’t let her cry or be afraid any more. He sank his teeth into her neck. She gasped at the pain as his teeth lanced into her flesh. She momentarily tried to push away, but he held her tight. He began to gently suck at her neck, drinking the sweet nectar from within her.

Her crying had stopped, and after a moment her eyes closed, her jaw becoming slightly slack and her lips parting just a bit. It was the effect of a vampire’s bite. It caused humans to fall into a state of euphoria. It was very personal, very calming, and very addicting. Damien knew that if he pulled away from her, she would become an addict.

For the rest of her life, Veronica would chase after him, hoping that he bit her neck again and again. She would want that feeling of high, that feeling of wonder. That would be all she would think about, all she would live for. If Damien didn’t provide it, she would find another vampire who would. She would slowly waste away, her neck filled with scars, her life empty and meaningless. Whatever beauty she once had would be gone.

Damien had seen this effect in ghouls before, the bite inevitably always broke the person who was bitten. The only real choices were to kill them by draining all of the blood, or turn them into a vampire like yourself. Veronica moaned gently as he continued to suck. This sent shivers up and down Damien’s spine.

He had fed and killed many people in his life, but never before had it felt so personal and so close as it did right now. Veronica was sweet. The taste of her was unlike anything he had ever tasted before. The inner soul of her being could be tasted in her blood, and Damien found what he already had suspected. She was a wonderful person. He began to suck harder.

Veronica’s moans became sharper as he bit at her neck more aggressively, sucking every drop from her veins. After a few moments the moans started quieting, a little bit at a time. When they finally stopped, Veronica became still. When the last drop hit Damien’s tongue he sighed, gently lowering Veronica down on the ground in a dry space. Veronica was dead.

Her skin was now cold, the warmth having been ebbed away from her by Damien’s machinations. Her milky white skin was steadily starting to take on a glossy look. Damien crouched down over her body and wept. It was the only thing he could do. He had to protect her. Now she would never grow old. She would remain in the body as it was this moment, perfect in every way. No man could harm her, no man could kill her. Damien had succeeded in protecting his love.

A sudden flash of light from a lantern hit Damien’s eyes. He hissed, looking up at the source that had destroyed his night vision and interrupted his time with Veronica.

“Hey!” a husky male voice shouted.

It appeared to be a night patrolman. Damien had been careless. He had made too much noise, been too enraptured in what he was doing with Veronica. He growled, jumped to his feet, and ran, following the same path the rapist had taken to escape earlier. He could hear the clank of the man as he ran forward, but the patrolman stopped when he got to Veronica.

“What is it?” Another man called as the first one bent down to check on the young girl.

The first man sighed and shook his head, closing the woman’s eyes before standing up. He looked down the dark alley at Damien as he turned a corner, disappearing in the shadows.

“Just another monster of the night,” the man called back.

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